Oprah Winfrey may believe that she's primed for a 2020 presidential run after her "empowering" Golden Globes speech heralding a new era in women's equality, free of abusive and manipulative entertainment industry mega-moguls. But when it comes to the most notorious offender among alleged Hollywood harassers — Harvey Weinstein — Oprah may have some explaining to do before she hits the campaign trail.
Like Meryl Streep, who also received flack for her longstanding relationship with the Miramax head — so longstanding, it seems impossible Streep was somehow excluded from hearing rumors of Harvey's misbehavior — Oprah has been close friends with Weinstein for decades, palling around with the producer at industry events and political fundraisers. She even co-produced "The Butler" with Weinstein, just a few short years ago.
And according to one of Weinstein's victims, Harvey was so close to Oprah, he used the relationship to seduce young actresses, taking them to parties where he could demonstrate his power by charming the daytime talk show host.
British actress Kadian Noble is one of several women suing Harvey Weinstein personally for what they say was predatory and harassing behavior. She claims Weinstein seduced her at a party where he introduced her to supermodels, and where Oprah was “swinging off his arm.”
“I thought, obviously, this man has something amazing in store for me. I felt completely played,” she said.
She says Weinstein found her again at a party in Cannes, where he invited her up to his hotel room to give her career advice. She says he touched her inappropriately, then forced her to perform sexual acts on him in the bathroom in front of a mirror.
After allegations against Weinstein surfaced, Oprah found herself in the cross-hairs, forced to explain how she'd worked with and supported Weinstein for years, while somehow failing to notice he'd been known to prey on young women. When she gave her statement, she, like Meryl Streep, threw the focus off of Weinstein and the pair's friendship, focusing instead on how Weinstein's "outing" was a "watershed moment" for women, and how the focus should be on the strength of his accusers, not on the depths of Harvey's depravity.
"If we make this just about Harvey Weinstein, then we will have lost this [watershed] moment," Winfrey told the media. "I think this is a moment where no matter what business you work in, there have been women who not only had the disease to please, that's a part of it, but who felt that in order to keep my job, in order to keep my positioning, in order to keep moving forward, I've got to smile, I've got to look the other way, I've got to pretend he didn't say that, I've got to pretend he didn't touch me — I think those days are about to be over."
She also failed to mention Weinstein by name in her landmark speech. Perhaps it was just an oversight.